ELKO, Nev. (AP) - A judge has ruled that a northern Nevada woman
accused with her boyfriend in the stabbing death of a girl who was
found buried in the desert will have to stand trial on murder and
Toni Fratto, 19, has pleaded not guilty in the March death of 16-year-old Micaela "Mickey" Costanzo. Fratto's boyfriend Kody Lee Patten, 18, also pleaded not guilty.
Costanzo was found about five miles from West Wendover High School, where she was a student. Authorities have not given a motive in her death.
Justice of the Peace Al Kacin ruled Thursday that there was sufficient evidence to try Fratto, the Elko Daily Free Press reported.
Patten's father, Kip Patten, testified Thursday that Fratto confessed to him on April 16.
"Kody got out of the car to start digging, while Toni and Micaela were still in the vehicle," he testified he was told by Fratto. "Then they got out standing next to the vehicle with Kody facing Micaela. Toni hit her with a shovel in the back."
Kip Patten said Fratto then told him that Costanzo went to the ground and Kody Patten started to hit and kick the victim.
"They took Micaela over to the hole and that was when her throat was cut," Kip Patten testified, adding Fratto told him that both she and his son were involved in the stabbing.
Fratto, who remained stoic during most of her two-day preliminary hearing, sobbed quietly during most of Kip Patten's testimony.
Also, prosecutors played a recording of Fratto's April 22 confession to Kody Patten's attorneys.
"I remember her (Costanzo) not moving ... We were freaking out. We didn't know what to do," Fratto was heard saying. "I wasn't mad. I was kind of frustrated but I wasn't mad at her ... I don't know what I was thinking."
Kip Patten said he didn't advise or encourage Fratto to make statements to his son's lawyers, John Ohlson and Jeff Kump.
"She wanted to come forward with it, she was having a hard time with it," he testified. "She didn't want Kody to have to pay for something they both participated in."
Fratto's mother, Casandra Fratto, said Kody Patten moved in with the Fratto family Jan. 30 due to differences with his father and had lived with them until his March 7 arrest.
Casandra Fratto said she and her husband answered an emphatic
"no" when their daughter phoned and asked whether she should meet
with Patten's lawyers.
"We didn't want her to meet with the attorneys," Casandra Fratto said, adding she and her husband were in Las Vegas at the time.
In his closing argument, Toni Fratto's attorney, John Springgate, said the only piece of credible evidence against his client was the recording.
"There is no forensic evidence indicating Ms. Fratto participated in this crime at any time," Springgate said. "Her statement to Ohlson and Kump is complete rubbish. That statement was taken in utter violation of professional conduct.
"With all respect to my former partner (Ohlson), they lied to her when they got that statement from her. Everything about Micaela Costanzo's death points to someone else," he added.
Fratto remains in the Elko County Jail without bail.
Patten's preliminary hearing is set to begin Aug. 2.